Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that has severe effects on the brain and nervous system. It is made from pseudoephedrine, a drug used in cold medications, and is processed with toxic and corrosive chemicals. It is highly and quickly addictive for many users.
Methamphetamine is sold in powder form or it can be crystallized into a form called Crystal Meth or Ice which has a stronger effect and is more addictive. Medically, methamphetamine is prescribed by doctors for people who fall asleep suddenly throughout the day, and sometimes for weight loss. Medical methamphetamine is brand named Desoxyn. When methamphetamine is used medically, it is prescribed in lower doses than usually used on the street.
What are Methamphetamine’s Effects?
Meth causes increased activity and sleeplessness, a rush of euphoria and a sense of well-being. Users feel confident and talkative. Meth users often stay up for extended periods, sometimes for several days, before they crash and sleep for many hours or even days. Meth users also experience confusion, anxiety and can be violent.
Meth users and addicts often stop taking care of themselves, neglect their health and have very poor diets as they have little or no appetite.
What are Methamphetamine’s Longer Term Effects?
When methamphetamine is used for an extended period, users often lose weight and become gaunt and haggard. Methamphetamine also creates mental changes in users: paranoia, aggression, irritability and even psychosis. Increased strain on the heart and accelerated heart rate can predispose the user to stroke.
Methamphetamine users are prone to other illnesses due to their risky lifestyles, for example, hepatitis C, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases. Some meth users suffer from “meth mouth,” destruction of the teeth due to reduced production of saliva and the caustic character of the drug. Meth users in recovery sometimes must have all their teeth pulled and replaced with dentures.
How is Methamphetamine Used?
How methamphetamine can be used depends on the form of the drug. Powder methamphetamine can be snorted or dissolved and injected. Crystalline methamphetamine, called ice or crystal meth, can be smoked. Powder meth has too many impurities and would damage the lungs. Meth smokers use a glass pipe similar to that used to smoke crack or heat the substance placed on a piece of aluminum foil and inhale the smoke.
Where is Methamphetamine Made?
Methamphetamine is primarily made in Mexico, Canada and the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, the border areas of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. In the US, it’s made in small local labs or in larger facilities in the Central Valley of California. Canadian labs primarily supply the US and Japan.
Southeast Asian methamphetamine travels to Taiwan, the Philippines, North Korea and Australia.
US Production: For many years, methamphetamine was usually made in small “mom-and-pop” labs in rural areas. Production facilities were small and only one or a few ounces would be made in any production cycle lasting a few days. In 2004, states began passing laws that restricted the over-the-counter sale of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine. As a result, this precursor chemical became far more unavailable to these small lab operators. Mexican drug trafficking organizations began to establish large labs in Mexico and in the Central Valley of California. Mexican drug smugglers just added methamphetamine to the cocaine, marijuana, and heroin they were running across the border. A few years later, mom-and-pop labs saw a resurgence when a new method of methamphetamine production was developed, called the “Shake and Bake” method. This method utilized two-liter soda bottles to mix the chemicals and allow the methamphetamine to crystallize, meaning that large labs with lots of equipment and cooking heat sources were no longer needed. This method also produced more methamphetamine out of less pseudoephedrine or cold medication. So meth cooks could acquire smaller amounts of cold medication and still produce salable amounts of methamphetamine.
Asia: As China is a major manufacturer of precursor chemicals such as pseudoephedrine, large methamphetamine production facilities have been found in Burma, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines. From those facilities, the drugs are consumed domestically or trafficked to Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia or Australia. One such facility in the Philippines was found that was capable of a thousand pounds of methamphetamine per each production cycle.
How Widespread is Methamphetamine Consumption?
Consumption varies greatly from country to country. Little methamphetamine abuse exists in Europe except for the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Recent large seizures in Nordic countries suggest that consumption is increasing in that region.
Use in the United States is high in the Western US and Midwest but is lower in large Northeast states. Hawaii, in particular, suffers from high abuse of Ice methamphetamine. In 2009, more than a million Americans reported that they had abused methamphetamine at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. By the time they graduate high school, more than two percent of American students admit they have used methamphetamine. But in the Philippines, ten percent of the population used methamphetamine in 2006. The United Nations reports that there are 14 million users of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) worldwide. More than half of them live in the East and Southeast Asia and in this area, the primary ATS used is methamphetamine.
Do Methamphetamine Users Go Through Withdrawal When They Quit Using the Drug?
Yes, methamphetamine users suffer severe irritability, fatigue, depression, anxiety and fright, drowsiness, nausea, sweating and shaking. They also go through strong cravings for the drug.
Can Methamphetamine Addiction be Treated Successfully?
Yes, a methamphetamine addict can successfully recover from meth addiction. Particularly with methamphetamine addicts, it is essential to begin to replenish the addict’s body with nutrients that have been robbed by the drug use and by poor life habits. A drug recovery program that helps a methamphetamine addict rebuild his body as well as going through traditional drug rehab treatment is more likely to succeed in this case. In Narconon centers, methamphetamine addicts are started on doses of nutritional supplements specifically indicated in cases of recovery from addiction. Mineral drinks help soothe the irritability and anxiety of recovering meth addicts.
The Narconon New Life Detoxification is a vital step for the methamphetamine addict doing the Narconon program. This detoxification step, employing time in a dry-heat sauna and exercise, flushes out the residual toxins that can make recovery so torturous. Many addicts have stated that this step reduces or even eliminates cravings for drugs.
Given the high addictiveness of methamphetamine, it is often advisable for recovering addicts to choose residential drug rehabs that operate longer-term recovery programs. This would give the addicted person the time to develop the physical stamina that will support the work of building a new, drug-free life. Narconon programs around the world have helped methamphetamine addicts repair the damage of addiction and live lasting, sober lives again.